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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  July 3, 2014 7:30am-9:31am EDT

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a gun to each other said. and there was mutual not an election anyone to get away from the. it was very value-based and you just want to get away from the. gorbachev thought oh, my god the united states can do anything, sdi is certainly real but it's going to make our ballistic missiles, negate american -- soviet power and it's going, if we tried to compete it will ruin of the soviet union. and so reagan had this mystical view of what sdi could become. gorbachev had a frightful view of what sdi would become, and all of us knew that it was both small and that time relatively insignificant research program in the pentagon, but these two guys just elevated it. and i think that gorbachev's view of it, that is going to bring down the soviet union, brought down the soviet union. >> host: so reagan didn't
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necessarily conceived as such, or did he? i guess this is a big source of contention. what did reagan really intend to achieve with this pursuit of sdi? >> guest: he intended to protect the united states against incoming ballistic missiles house of representatives and it becomes much more, becomes this really big source of discussion during these two days. i'm just interested to learn some the details and to really get a sense in your book of the kind of granular back and forth. >> guest: without cutting them up too much although we're here to tout the book, the chapters three, four and five go back and forth with what these two men are discussing. what you do is you see them raw. you see them by themselves but you see them with their real
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views. >> host: how may people in the room with them? >> guest: there are the two of them, the two foreign ministers who don't participate much at all. there are two notetakers, thank god, right in what they say. one rushing from one american, and they by and large agree on most things, and there are two translators. so that's all. so during this time those of us who aren't in the room that met with reagan before and after get a general idea what happened, but not very much. it's only 25 years later when i'm going through these notes that i say, holy cow, it's amazing what these notes show. that reagan is just as knowledgeable as gorbachev, which every thought at the time was just impossible. gorbachev was the hot kid in town. he was a whiz kid. he was a generation younger than
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reagan, so much smarter, somewhat younger, so much more with it. reagan didn't know the issues very well. he was kind of doctoring around, and you don't get that from the title to get the idea that there's no intellectual gap in the two. there's the knowledge gap between the two. and in terms of negotiations, that isn't the gap between the two. and one of the wonderful parts of looking at these notes, both the russian anti-american notes, is that over those 10 and a half years, gorbachev access to reagan i think it's 11 or 12 times, i'm making all the concessions. you've given me nothing. do you know what reagan says each of those times that gorbachev complains? he says nothing. he says absolutely nothing. he must be sitting there thinking, what's wrong with that? it suits me just fine. i knew i was a great negotiator, so what are you complaining
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about? i like it that way. so he never answers gorbachev, and gorbachev just gets madder and madder. and we have, thank god we have the notes of gorbachev on the plane from reykjavík back to moscow, and he has his staff on the plane, and he says to the staff, you know, i gave away things in reykjavík. i made all the concessions. reagan did nothing. his staff must have thought, who's the dummy here, you know? why did you do that? but anyway, that's the way it was. it's marvelous, and so i was really lucky to be there, that was luck, and have the memory of what happened there. but to have these notes open. >> host: i want to talk about sort of the climax of the summit a second. but some the details in the book is wonderful. your own expenses of reykjavík.
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one image that you paint beautifully is the site of the two military officers on each side holding the nuclear football, the suitcases with the codes it would launch a nuclear strike. you said that's the most, actually the most memorable sight that you recall from that summit. why is that? >> guest: the idea that these two men who were as close as you and i together, and holding, each of them, in their smartly pressed uniforms, standing there, never looking at each other that i saw over the weekend, holding a briefcase, clutching it hard with her hand. it had the codes to blow up each other's country. i thought, god, that's what they're talking about in this room. and hofdi house is small, a small little house and they didn't have any room to spread out. we were upstairs in one of the
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partners. there was a russian partner and an american park and kind of a dmz, demilitarized zone between them and there was a conference room on the first floor and these two guys in the hallway. and every time one of the leaders left, of course a fellow holding the football left as well. but to go and see the two leaders go into the room, as i did, didn't you see their guy standing right outside not looking at each other, there wasn't much to look at, holding a football, kind of gave me the willies. i looked at them then and i look at them several times over the weekend thinking god, that's what this is all about. >> host: the dmz, the upstairs parlor that you write about as well, what was happening up there? basically the two negotiating teams from both sides, you're just up there, you don't know what is being discussed down below. but you said it was sort of a kind of congenial atmosphere and
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one that -- >> guest: on the second day, on the sunday of the summit which is october 12, 1986. they were gathering in the hallway of the top leadership of the soviet union, top leadership of the united states. we had just gone all night with some of these. we started in the hofdi house at a clock at night and ended at 6:20 the next winter i walked back, showered and reported in the bubble, the president at about 8:00 to we've accomplished more in arms control that one night than we had in seven years of constant negotiations in geneva. and then while the two were meeting that sunday morning, all of the sudden from both parlors the diplomats came out, the officials came out and buy the most extraordinary conversations. it was like real people for the first time, at least my experience for the first time.
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wrote that two daughters. he was only about his daughters, i was telling him about my. he asked me about the chairman of the joint chiefs, and i asked him about his prior service, and he told funny stories about washington. you know, it was like normal people. and we've never had -- i had never had conversations with the soviet leaders. we were like normal people. we were searching for each other's, tell me a secret. we were trying to find anything about it, and it was amazing. >> host: and i suppose that's part of the unscripted nature of this summit. >> guest: everything was unscripted. you wouldn't believe at a meeting company, to ceos in the united states, okay, they would not meet together without
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some agenda, without some who's going to attend on both sides. that's kind of standard for me. there was no agenda, no who is going to participate. no time. >> host: and the only limit as we're getting towards the end of the summer, but the president said he needed to get home. >> guest: no, no, no. >> host: the first lady did not come to reykjavík, but the president said he promised her he would be home for dinner guest that it was not a proper full. he mentioned it several times and those are distinct in my mind because of that because it was so unusual. rice was there and she had the stage two or so. she preened around that city. she changed her outfit four times the first day of the summit. i felt was a little robust, but anyway, she used a gangplank. they were sitting on board the
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ship they called for the soviet sonata, the singer whose signature song was the impossible dream. i mean, who could make this stuff up? so she used a gangplank getting out the vote like a fashion runway showing her new wares as she went through today. nancy reagan did know she was going to be there, and stay back in washington. and fumed the whole weekend because she was prancing on the world stage. there was a summit, had just a lot of lockout on all news. so there was no leaks, no briefings at all. so she had the stage two result on that. and she just used it like me. so that was a lot of fun, this gave a little nice part to make a festive event.
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>> host: every last session in reykjavík, there's no deal, two sides are at loggerheads still over sdi. and then gorbachev makes this sort of surprising statement. what they gorbachev put on the table, and that it president reagan respond? >> guest: they had both agreed saturday night during our all night negotiations, the soviets finally after 20 years agreed to equal limits of strategic arms. a big breakthrough that would make the summit one of the most important summits in history by itself. the next morning the intermediate missiles in europe, they were the main threat to nato, gorbachev said let's eliminate them from europe. another enormous breakthrough. so we had on the nuclear front breakthroughs like we have never had before. there was christmas, your
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birthday. all of a sudden on sunday he said yeah, we did all that, but you have to give up sdi. he didn't say give up sdi. he said can find the research to the laboratories, a phrase that he had interestingly enough never use any of the preparation meetings on the way, you know, with the politburo. it's pop instead and as he stuck with it. reckons that i'm not going to give up sdi and i'm not going to -- he said if you can find, no one would fly an airplane that was confined to a laboratory. no one would even drive a car that was confined to a laboratory. and sdi is former public event any of these. just understand what you are doing. it would be killing it. i had experts on sdi, which i was not come later time when i got back to washington that some 80% of all the tests that were scheduled for sdi, and the
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congress wouldn't have funded any program that was killed like that. so reagan said no. gorbachev said -- reagan said -- they would back and forth and back and forth and both of them wanted to get an agreement to both of them really wanted the summit to be a success, but there was a part that reward compromise on. so they left each other and reagan was furious. he was just fuming. according to one or two possible explanations, right at the end when gorbachev said, well, ron, i don't know what we could have done differently, and reagan jabs his finger into his chest and said, well, you could have said yes. we saw a reagan five weeks later at the ambassador's house, and his personal aide gave, years later, 20 years later gave an oral history in which he said he never saw the president more mad
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or more depressed except when nancy reagan was going in for cancer operation. we saw him at the house. he was just going back and forth, and he was furious. he was furious all the way on the way out to reykjavík, out of reykjavík out to the air base. there he was going to spend five minutes talking to the troops there, the 3000 troops that were stationed for nader deployment of their, and he would scheduled that for a long time and he was furious actually got to the base, stood in front of the 3000 troops, ma and whenever he was in front of troops he just lit up. you could see he was back being ronald reagan. but for that hour he certainly wasn't ronald reagan. >> host: the way it was portrayed in the way you detail in the book, in immediate aftermath of the summit, it was as if reagan had walked away from the deal of the century, that gorbachev had effectively
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proposed scrapping all nuclear weapons and reagan said no. but you agreed with reagan's turning the deal down and you still agree with that i take it? >> guest: . i did. i do not mourn it was going to be. i thought on balance he was right that we would go back to the nuclear side and we should keep our options open on sdi. but it wasn't. i thought sdi was going to be important to reinforce the terms. reagan didn't want anything to do with it. he wanted to protect the united states with a shield against incoming ballistic missiles, okay? but i had no idea and i say that in the book. i had no idea that this is going to start a chain reaction that was going to end of the cold war. no one would imagine that because what happened was gorbachev got back and he says oh, my god, two things. number one, sdi and this guy is
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really convinced there's no way, because gorbachev's strategy was, i'm going to make reagan at you on sdi that he can't refuse. he finds out, much to his or her and misery at reykjavík, there's no deal on sdi reagan can't refuse. so this guy is convinced. and number two, he hears reagan say there's been great progress on sdi. so he goes back and he says okay, i can't make a deal to kill sdi with reagan. i've got to compete in the high-tech area. within weeks he calls a meeting of the supporting soviets, tells them that has to be far more rapid reforms. reforms are very poorly thought out. they are rushed into print. they probably wouldn't have succeeded anyway, but gorbachev left no doubt about whether they would succeed because he did in the worst way possible.
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in the book gorbachev really wanted to reform the soviet union in the worst way possible and that's just how we did it, the worst way possible. and from those reforms the soviet union just blew up. >> host: we can talk about sort of the implications of sdi, the obligations of reykjavík and how it intended to the end of the cold war which is the second half of your book, is all about that. i did want to ask you to talk about your first assignment when you get back from reykjavík to washington, probably no one expected to take. but it's a great little anecdote in the book. what did you have to do when you got back to washington? >> guest: there was a series of mishaps. because thursday night we got to reykjavík and i didn't sleep all that well. friday night we were busy doing stuff. saturday we pulled an all night from 8:00 to 6:20 in the morning. i don't know about you, but i never did and all night in
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college so i missed the tradition. and then sunday i'm just exhausted. i've gotten probably six hours in the last three days of sleep and i was absolutely fit to be tied. and then don regan asked me to fly the press plane back from reykjavík, reading the press on the. i don't about 2:00 in the morning on monday the 13th of october, 1986, and i find out the freezer had broken down and the car doesn't work. and so i wake up and neighbor and we take the wagon and take all the meat that's melting, and he's going to loan me the car to get to npc for the today show at 7:00 in the morning. so then i come back from the today show and i do the cbs morning news and then the today show. i get back and all i want to do is close the curtains, you know, get the girls off to school and everything like that. and all of a sudden i get a call
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from bill crouch, chairman of the joint chiefs, from don rumsfeld with them i'd worked many times, dick cheney and some others, trying to answer the calls. during one of these times, in those days you only had one line in the house. and all of a sudden i get a call, call this number from the white house. i call this number, donald regan, chief of staff of the white house and he says, i need a favor from you. i thought oh, god, this is going to be bad. because he would normally go through staff aides rather than call me but and this is no, no. the president needs a favor. it's worse, you know. and he said the president just hung up talking to australia's prime mr., and it promised he would be there to brief him. so i said i can't go. i'm absolutely going to be
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cataclysmic. i'm on death row right now. you know, i got five hours of sleep in the last three nights, four nights, whatever, and australia is at the end of the world. cases i know, that's great, everything else, but the president just mentioned you to hawk and a car is coming to take you to dulles for the 4:00 flight. so i go out there for a day. >> host: and flew right back. and you said hoch just would want you to tell stories about ronald reagan? >> guest: he wanted me to tell stories about ronald reagan and anyone to show me about his sailboat. he got a new cell phone. he was very, very excited about his sailboat. i don't know anything about sailboats but he wanted to do that. and then we greeted the press of which they're going hysterical at that time, and he said after we spent time telling i told stories about reagan and he
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showed me his sailboat, which is over a half hour i think, teachers that he had gotten for the sailboat. then he went out and he told the press that it only budgeted an hour for this thing but because of the importance of reykjavík we've spent an hour and 40 minutes or something like that. of which some we spent probably 10 on reykjavík. but it showed he was a good ally, it showed the united states cared about him. he did know that much about it and didn't care all that much but he did care about it because it didn't very cooperative with the united states on issue, even though his name was hawke, so as director of arms control i could satisfy that. >> host: before we get back to reagan and gorbachev, i also want to ask you about a
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character that plays throughout this book, someone you've already mentioned, sergei. tell me about him and what his role was at reykjavík and love it about his star and why you decided to feature it and had a sort of running secondary character throughout this narrative? >> guest: because i thought he was tremendous. he appeared suddenly on saturday. none of us knew he's going to be there. none of us suspected he would be there to head up the soviet delegation. he was a five star marshall to our last five star marshall was omar bradley. he was most decorated man in soviet history. one of the few to be a hero of the soviet union. and he appeared, all of us have heard about in the none of us had met him. and he controlled his delegation in such a way that was brilliant to we have been dealing with all
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these guys who are basically, you, we take a nose about of time giving propaganda speeches, okay? that night by the o'clock, sergei akhromeyev said i want to do business. and sitting next to them, they started haranguing. it was amazing. he put his hand on the guys arm, looked at him, gave him a five star stay or. looked at him, simmer down, akhromeyev said okay, as we were saying. two or three times a minute when one of these guys would fire up, normal propaganda ploy, he would stare them down and said no, we are not doing that. and he made the greatest concessions on strategic arms to what i consider a very reasonable point of view. and so that was from 8:00 at
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night on saturday night and tell 620 time in the next month or then he appears in geneva the next year, 1987, and we've been negotiating all day with the soviets, foreign minister of the soviet union has us all for dinner. i'm sitting with colin powell was the national security advisor, george shultz, secretary of state, and we're talking a little bit about arms control but we arms control coming out of our ears by that time. and so i decided to break the moment. i said, martial akhromeyev, i read, meaning cia report, but it did say that, i said i read your the last soviet in uniform who fought in world war ii, and that you had an amazing time in world war ii. can you tell us about it? he just lit up. and what he told us was he joined when he was 17, starting
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when he was 18 his tank battalion was stationed outside of leningrad, and the german north panzer division was attacking on the road. he was not in the building for 18 months during the russian winter, 22 degrees below zero. he had a little pup tent. he never was in a building for 18 months on the road to keep the german panzer division from taking leningrad. and meanwhile, you know, more than a million of a few million people were dying in leningrad. so he told us the story and all of us were just blown away by it. colin kahl asked him some questions on the tanks, you know, it was nice to see those two soldiers talk about their lingo and their events. and then like every good thing in life you say okay, this has been about 40 minutes and we've
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got to go, and scholz, then second of state george shultz said, martial akhromeyev, let me tell you your wonderful. thank you for sharing that kind of determination, that kind of grit is what american so admire in soviet people and symbolized by what you did. it was a wonderful moment. akhromeyev looks at him and he says well, thank you, mr. secretary. appreciate that. but the truth is that had we moved from that road, stalin would have had a shot. [laughter] i'm thinking to myself, isn't that a great remark? scholz is mystifying this, and complimenting him and doing it perfectly fine. but he's telling was the reality, stalin would have had him shot. stalling came up with a great phrase, there's no people who surrendered. there are just traders. for anybody in the pow camp,
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there's just more. and then i saw akhromeyev at the signing ceremony in 1987, and he said it was his proudest moment in his life, the to proudest moment was on the road in leningrad and the signing in the white house. he and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of the united states went around visiting military bases, which were unheard of before reykjavík. and then after a long while the wall was falling just in the time in 1989 which was a year and half later, i was out of government by then, i was over in a conference in moscow with robert mcnamara and a bunch of people, and that akhromeyev who was in, not chief of staff of the armed forces but he was gorbachev's military advisor to so i sent him a note to say hello. he said, right over. come right over, his office was right down the hall from
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gorbachev. we had a wonderful hour talking to him that how he showed me around his office and he showed me his chandelier. it was a wonderful chandelier, but his phone bank of six phones on different colors and shapes and sizes that attracted more attention. and we said goodbye, and i thanked him for all of his cooperation. it was absolutely wonderful at reykjavík and pinckney, the hero at reykjavík. and then the soviet union starts to fall. and on september 26, 1991, i'm reading in the "washington post" about the fifth paragraph down an article about michael dobbs that said akhromeyev committed suicide in his office with the chandelier, took the rope from the traits, tied it up, and with the chandelier committed suicide right down the hall from gorbachev's office. and then as if that wasn't bad
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enough, something happened a week later, but when i read that paper on september 26, it was early in the morning. by that time colin powell was chairman of the joint chiefs, and i called him up. it was before 7:00 in the morning. his secretary said, well, he's in a briefing already. i said, just tell him to give ken adelman a call when he gets a chance. she said oh, hold on a minute. and so hold on a minute. the phone rings. kenny. he always called me today. my mother called me kenny. kenny, i felt the same thing. unbelievable what happened. i can say what i called for. but we both knew that it was amazing. a week later, akhromeyev's funeral takes place, and no official attended. nobody from the foreign ministry, no military honors. just his daughters and his wife,
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and a few friends. and this is the most decorated man in soviet history. this is the man at gorbachev side for years, and then a few days after he is buried, some vandals, and dig up his body and steal the uniform and throw the body away. ..
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and he said, i don't know, i'll ask gorbachev when i get back to has cow. so i'm waiting for him to tell he. but that storyline, i've had friends tell me who read the book, that storyline is part of the host, certainly, emotional and intriguing art of the reykjavik story. >> host: yeah. just in the last few minutes we have, i wanted you to just kind of reflect on this really extraordinary relationship between reagan and gorbachev, and the cover of your book has this photo that's become iconic, and there's so many photos from those summits those last few years of the cold war that are now so familiar, and you just, you can see in the photographs there was a chemistry between these two men. what was it? how do you explain it, and how much of it was forged in that weekend in reykjavik? >> guest: i think it was, it wasn't entirely, you know, there wasn't a great deal of friendship between the two of them. there was a mutual add hi
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ration -- admiration, and there was a kind of a mutual need for each other, because reagan had gone through the iran contra episode at that time which people thought was kind of ridiculous. gorbachev was/ tremendous problem in the soviet union, and so anytime they turned to domestic affairs, it was a nightmare. their only salvation was on the international stage, and the only thing going on on the international stage was each other. so they needed that. they understood that, and they respected each other. there was a wonderful story that i ran into that i think i put in the book when years later gorbachev was on in london and attending a conference at oxford or cambridge. and some british academic, typical snotty, to tell you the truth, says, oh, everybody knows ronald reagan is just a lightweight and, you know, can't know anything about -- didn't
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know anything about that. typical academic, typical british, you know, snotty remark. gorbachev interrupts him even though he's not on a an or anything like that and said, professor, that's wrong. ronald reagan's a man of judgment, he was a hand of integrity, and don't say that. you don't though that what you're talking about. i thought, whoa, that is something. he didn't have to say thinking. so there was this respect on that. there was a need for each other, and there was a common bond of views that they both thought there were way too many nuclear weapons, and they were right, that they were way too dangerously deployed, and they were right, and that they had the responsibility to do something about it. plus they had a kinship that both of them were born and raised in the hinterlands. the chances of them coming to power were infinitesimal. reagan was born of an alcoholic father who sold shoes when he had a job.
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gorbachev's family was a rural, poor family in the middle of no where, and, you know, the chances of the two of them coming together as leaders of the world, you know? and they both realized that. they said something special happened to me, manager -- something special happened to him, something special brought us together. and when i think about the book and i think about reykjavik, i think one thing i should have added in the book was maybe people were right. maybe the house was haunted. what happened there was so extraordinary and, in a way, so mysterious and so extra-worldly that, you know, maybe they're right. maybe it is a ghost house. maybe it is a haunted house. >> host: well, it's an extraordinary story and extraordinarily well told in this book, and thank you for your time. this was a lot of fun. >> guest: you're welcome.
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>> tonight on c-span2, booktv in prime time features politicians on life in d.c. and beyond. our lineup includes hillary clinton on her book, "hard choices: a memoir." tomorrower senator and presidential candidate rick santorum on blue collar conservatives, and south carolina congressman jim clyburn talked about his life in "blessed experiences: genuinely southern, proudly black." booktv in prime time, eight p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> so i tell the story about how i, every aspect of whose identity is in one way or another a threat to israel, my gender is male, my religion is muslim, my citizenship is american, but my nationality is
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iranian, my ethnicity is persian, my culture is middle eastern, everything about me is, sends off, you know, all the warning signals for israel. and so the experience of an iranian-american, single man trying to get through ben-gurion airport in, you know, in the 21st century is a reminder to everyone that despite the way that globalization has brought us closer and has diminished the boundaries that separate us as nations, as ethnicities, as people, as cultures, despite all of that, all you've got to do is spend a few minutes trying to get through ben-gurion airport to remember that those divisions, those things that separate us are still very much alive. >> best selling author and professor reza aslan will take your phone calls, e-mails and tweets on islamic fundamentalism, the war on terror and the current
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instability in the middle east live for three hours sunday at noon eastern on booktv's "in depth," part of a three-day holiday weekend starting this friday on c-span2. booktv, television for serious readers. >> in the age of radiq(qcraig nelson writes about the history of atomic science and the development of nuclear power and weapons. he recently talked about his book at the new york public library. this is just over an hour. >> i remember going to the library when i was around 11 years old and checking out a big, beautifully-illustrated book printed in 1956. it was entitled "our friend, the atom" by german science author hans mayber. the preface featured a parable about a man who rubbed a magic
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lamp and brought forth a heightty genie. the genie stood for atomic energy. he told the person that had freed him that he must be handled carefully because he could be a tireless, uncomplaining servant or the fearful and terrible master the man had ever known. the man didn't want this responsibility, but the gene think told him that now that he had been freed, his discoverer couldn't put him back in the bottle. he had to decide how to use him. tonight's presentation of "the age of radiance" relates the tale in much richer, more detailed form. the book tells among its many interwoven stories of scientists whose interest in the atom sometimes killed them, of how hitler's bigotry and persecution drove from germany the very scientists whose discovery could have given him mastery of the world and of the twin paths of apocalyptic war and of peaceful energy sources taken by nuclear
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research. in this story as told by the speaker tonight, the firemen who battle the disaster at chernobyl loom as large as the curies or einstein. neither an unalloyed good or evil in and of itself, but very much the product of how and how carefully we humans use what we have discovered. craig nelson has written books on many and varied topics. rocket men told the story of the apollo moon missions. thomas paine profiled that philosopher. the first heroes was about the doolittle raid in japan in the early part of world war ii, and let's get lost features the author's travels to unusual parts of the world is and the odd experiences that accompanied them. other things that he has written have appeared in "vanity fair," "the wall street journal" and "salon." he lives not too far from here in greenwich village. leads welcome the author of "the
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age of radiance," craig nelson. [applause] >> thank you so kindly. you know, it's such a thrill to be invited to the thy public library since i've -- new york public library since i've been the patron ever since the minute i moved here this 1979. and, of course, as a historian, it's a major part of my work. one of the first books i remember reading as a child was a dr. seuss book called "and to think that i saw it on mulberry street." and my library's in the building where david bowie and iman live, and there's nothing in this book as good as seeing david bowie and iman on mulberry street. you can see already how history folds in on itself and some of the things we're going to be talking about. now, five years ago when i first started working on this book, if you asked me what radiation was with, i would have said, oh,
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scary, dangerous, it's infectious, it's cancer-causing, it's evil, and probably this is what many of you think too. i still think many of those things, but they're sort of tempered with a lot of other ideas. like the very first thing i learned was the fact that radiation is caused by atoms that are little chubby, fat atoms, and they're really sort of adorable. they're so fat that they break the bonds of nature that create the material world and spit out little pieces of themselves. and that's what radioactivity is. it's these little fat, chubby atoms spitting out little subatomic particles or little gamma rays. and so you can think of them as being, like, the hollywood starlets of the periodic table. they're unstable and bulimic. and so there they are. that's a little fat uranium atoms being all spitty, and the thing about it, while they're spitting, they create this sort of -- and like hollywood starlets, while they're doing
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this spitting, they create this charm about them. for example, when marie curie used to go into her lab first thing in the morning, she would leave out her radium so it would be glowing. but then somebody noticed after she put the radium away, the walls were still glowing. and then like one person noticed, when you picked uprt e silvery blew tone numb -- plutonium, it was warm like a puppy, and it was so strange to pick up this metal that you'd think would be cold, and instead it was warm like a puppy. but the solution for loss loss alamos for holding that puppy too long was called high amputation. so it's sort of a scary puppy. really the entire subatomic world has this disturbing quality. we talk about radiation over time has a half-life, and we think about this inert object that are sending off rays that
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are dangerous to us and how distushing that is. but really the entire subatomic world is like that. so i want to give one example. let's say you're flying in a plane, and you look out the window, and you see a bunch of specks. and because you're a world class physicist, you take out your slide rule and start to create a hath mat call portrait of the way those specks appear and disappear, and after a while you've created something of an idea of mathematics of these specks. and then you take out your binoculars, and you realize you've been flying over water, and the specks are white caps. and you know that they're powered by waves. and being a world class fizz is cyst, you know -- physicist, you know there isn't much melody to this music, but there is a lot of rhythm. and rhythm is the pulse of waves. so you take a whole new set of calculations based on the waves. and this is how in the subatomic world we can use two different instruments -- our eyes and our
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binoculars in this example -- to notice particles, the white caps or waves, the invisible forces powering the fors underneath. and this is how something in the subatomic world can be both a particle, like a foe on the, and a wave like that wave. so all of it's creepy and disturbing, like i said. before we get too much of the science, i want to back up a little bit. one of the things that's sad a about history, the way we learn it in school, is we learn the dates of this and that, when this great hand was born, when he died, the date of that battle, but the guy who started history had a different idea altogether. he said that history is about one thing and one thing only, and that is have i got a story for you. once upon a time there was a little girl named manya who was the youngest of five children of a family that had once been prosperous but had fallen on hard time. when she was 17, her older sister said let's make a deal.
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you go work and support me for two years while i go be to university, and then i'll turn around and do the same thing for you. and this was an especially bizarre idea at the time because at that moment, in that time and in that place, it was illegal for women over the age of 12 to get an education. and the sisters were getting around that by attending something called the floating university which floated so the authorities couldn't track down who was running it and throw them in a labor camp. but this floating university did a fantastic job, because the older sister got into medical school at the university of paris, the star bonnes, and -- star bonn, and off she went to be a than think and support her. and the -- nanny and support her. and the first couple of jobs she gets she's really unhappy, and then she starts working for the sa love skies, and they're a fantastic family. they run a sugar plantation outside of warsaw, and they love manya, and their six kids are just adorable, and then the
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oldest son comes home from school, and he's cashmere, and he and manya fall head over heels in love. and for a year they're dating and finally he says, you know what i'm going to do? i'm going to tell hi parents that we're going to get married. and he goes and does that. all the kids know about it, and they all think it's just great. but, in fact, the parents say, no way. you're not marrying this little, pathetic, moneyless nobody. you're marrying up, and they refuse to let them get married. and cashmere says, oh, leads wait for me, i'm going to work this out, i'm going to talk them into with marrying you, and they see each other secretly for six months, and the parents find out, and they fire her. so thousand she goes back to warsaw, and she's living at her father's house, and she's heart broken. she's 19. and the letter comes from her older sister. i finished school, i'm engaged to be married, and now it's your turn. come to paris. but she's so in love, she can't do it. she just can't give up her first love of her life.
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and then final hi the letter arrives from cashmere, forget it, my parents are never going to let me marry you, forget it. decades later, cashmere would become a famous mathematician in warsaw, and he would be frequently seen in the main square of that city staring up at the enormous statue of the national hero of poland, marie curie, which is who manya grew up to be. first of all, don't always follow your heart, especially if you're 19. but anyway -- [laughter] it really shows you, you know, what would have happened if she had stayed with him and never left poland, how would our future have been changed? because as marie curie, she would go on to discover the fundamental forces of radioactivity, she would discover radium and pa load yum, and she would realize that radiation didn't come from the outside, it came from within, and they would discover that because it has such an effect on
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fast-growing cells, you can use it to treat cancer. but, now, i know all of you heard the wonderful story of marie and pierre curie and what a fantastic couple they were and how perfect they were for each other, but let's forget about that for a minute. after pierre died, marie had an incredible affair with paul longevin, this guy here. here's our only woman. here's marie. here's our white cap idea. here's neils -- [inaudible] here's einstein. these are is the greatest minds of 927. -- 1927. newway, so marie has an affair with paul longevin who's so important, he's sitting next to sign stein in this -- einstein in this picture. and she and paul have a fantastic relationship.
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they rent a house, and their letters back and forth are so passionate. she comes back to life after being widowed by pierre's sudden and early death. probably affected by working with radioactive materials. but anyway, so they're hadley in love, and it's like she has a whole second life, except there's a problem in that, of course, paul is married, and even though his wife doesn't mind that he has a his dress, she minds that his mistress is the most famous woman in france. and the wife has a brother, and the brother runs a newspaper. and they start talking about how marie curie is this homewrecker, and she's this polish immigrant, she's jewish, almost the only person in the book who's not jewish. but anyway, she's this homewrecker and horrible person, and it becomes such a scandal that when she gets ready to go off to sweden to get her second nobel prize, they go, you know, maybe you should wait and come get this prize next year, and she calls up einstein and says,
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what should i do? anyway, there's this whole kerfuffle. that relationship falls apart, as all of you women in the audience have guessed, paul goes back to his wife. but before that relationship ends and breaks marie's heart all over again, paul says i've got this real go-getter named fred, and you should hire him to work in your lab. and she does hire fred. and after about a year you'll never guess what happens. fred says, marie, i want to marry your daughter, irene. and marie has a heart attack. says, no, you're not going to marry her. finish and, in fact, she makes him sign one of the first prenups in history, that if anything happens this that marriage, the curies are going to keep all the aid yum. but -- radium. they are more important to us today than marie and pierre curie because they discovered artificial radiation which is a fundamental element of nuclear medicine and is as important as the microscope.
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and the reason i've told you this long, giant story is because the end of the story is that marie curie was the first woman to win a nobel prize, and her daughter was the second. yea. isn't that fantastic? aren't they great? fred was pretty hupg key, huh? good going. [laughter] all right. so after fred and irene discover artificial radiation, everybody around the world starts irradiating everything. and one group that especially becomes good at it is a villainous chemist. that's a good phrase. a villain oust chemist in germany by the name of otto and his partner, and none of you have ever heard of this partner even though she's the center of this history and our modern times, and i would like to tell you her story. lisa was the first woman professor in the history of germany, she was the second woman to receive an advanced degree in the 500-year history
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of the university of vienna. she was running the most important research institution in the world when she was kicked out for having jewish ancestry. she ends up in sweden, nils boor arranged for her to get out in the nick of time with her life, and there she is at the age of 60 all washed up. she doesn't speak swedish, her boss is gel out of her and hates her -- jealous of her and hates her. she isn't being paid anything, and she feels completely washed up and alone, and she can't believe this that is happened to her. and her nephew comes for a visit on christmas, and they have something called, they eat something called -- [inaudible] and for those of you who haven't eaten it, it's like when you go to a 7/eleven and buy beef jerky, except it has the consistency of jell-o. so they have christmas dinner, and then they're going for a
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walk, and all she can talk about is her villainous chemist ex-partner ott to hap and his -- han and his mysterious findings. he's pointing a stream of neutrons at uranium, and he's getting bizarre results that no one understands. and they think maybe their instruments are wrong, maybe the chemistry's wrong. they don't know what's going on. and finally, lisa sits down on a log in the middle of a snowfall on christmas day in sweden, and she takes out a pencil and a piece of paper. and she takes the uranium atom and how much it weighs, and she takes the tough that they're getting out of it and how much it weighs atomically, and then she applies einstein's e equals mc2 in the middle, and it all fits. she's involved fission. and when ott to robert -- otto goes back to working for his neighbor, that's where fission discovered.
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and this triggers an incredible sensation among the emigres who are fleeing hitler. because in the united states especially all the sort of anglo american scientists are working they don't care about fission. they think this idea of making bombs and splitting atoms is just wacky. but everyone who's fleeing hitler is thinking to themselves, what if hitler gets the atomic bomb and we don't have it? so normally americans are told the story is of the making of atomic bomb as einstein and oppenheimer wrote some calculations on a board and poof, bombs. in fact, it took three of the most terrifying experiments in the history of science to make these bombs, and the first one happened in the middle of the city of chicago. enrique ferme was supposed to create the first reactor in the woods outside of chicago, but
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the people building that facility had a strike, and so the university of chicago president said, you know, we don't have football here anymore, is nobody's using our football stadium, so you could use that. and ferme found this little squash court inside the football stadium this the middle of the city of chicago, and this is where he created the first nuclear reactor. i call it the third most dangerous experiment in american history, because what if something had gone wrong? but nothing went wrong. the service the most perfect experiment anyone had ever seen, and to this daymen enrique ferme has the patent on this style of nuclear reactors. but one thing very funny happened in that the soviet spies who were sending word of this back to moscow, there is a translation issue. so instead of squash court, which is where he was, for almost three decades the soviet union thought the first nuclear reactor was birth inside a
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pumpkin patch. [laughter] now, i know that some of you came here because you heard there was going to be a reading, and i know that some of you are angry that i haven't read anything. so i will read a little bit for you at this time so you aren't disappointed and furious. in 1921 a young woman named katherine was told that she was not long for the earth, that soon she would die. katherine decided to spend the rest of her days as wife to winthrop page, a chicago million their as old as her daddy, and live out west on the ranch which lay in a desert between the we cos river -- pecos river and the san gray dechristo mountains where peak snow caps burned red and incandescent. the following year a pale nurse with such a serious cough his doctors suspected tuberculosis but not his chain smoking showed up to stay at the ranch, and she taught him how to ride a horse
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through the canyons and across the mesa in every kind of weather. a few seasons later, he returned to mexico, and this time katherine page -- whose death would not come for decades and whose husband would never come west -- took them 9500 feet into the peaks to a cab win with a fireplace made from clay surrounded by fields of clover and heart-stopping views of the pecos river and the mountains. hot dog, robert said. no, pero caliente, katherine said. the two boys convinced their dad to rent the place, a lease robert would continue as an adult. he and frank went there every chance they could, living great guide dreams of the american west, riding horseback thousands of miles all the way to colorado, living on vienna saw sames, chocolate-covered raisins, cheese and whiskey. ladies, here we have a lesson
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history can teach us. if you have a man who's the object of your interest and you're not paying enough attention, history insists you should try chocolate-covered raisins, cheese and whiskey. during one of his days out west oppenheimer wrote a letter, my two great las las vegas -- lovee chemistry and new mexico. the canyon was named for the trees, the mexican word for those trees, loss alamos. and, you know, i grew up in a jungle town filled with swamp people, so i just love the southwest. i think it's just beautiful. so i certainly get this part of the story. now, two kinds of bombs were made at close alamos. the first one was made from uranium, and it was so simple in engineering that they never tested it before dropping it on hiroshima. the first time it was tested was
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when it was detonated. and, basically, this bomb is a gun inside where a shot of uranium is thrown into a bowl of uranium. and in order to -- but the one problem they had was they didn't though how much uranium they needed in each end of this so otto robert frisch, the one who helped discover fission, he went off into the canyons and created the second most dangerous experiment in american history where he created this guillotine-like device. and he did a set of washers where you could change the size of the plug and another set of washers where he could change the size of the bowl, and then he would drop the washers with this guillotine, and they would pass through the bowl for a couple of seconds and create a very split second of supercriticalty. and one american physicist said we're trying to come as close to an atomic explosion without actually blowing ourselves up. and that was how they created that bomb. now, i want you to carefully notice what this bomb looks
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like, and here comes the plutonium bomb which looks like that. thousand, you'll see there's quite a difference between those two, and that's because when the men, the fizz bists -- physicists at lost alamos -- lois alamos first put together the, they thesneeded to figure out how to come press it from the size of an orange to the size of a marble, and that would make it work. and the only way to do that was to perfectly implode it on all sides. so all these wires you see are little detonation charges that are all firing in perfect sin cothinksty to compress the blew taupe numb. and the guy who came up with this was my favorite hungarian, johnny von knewman. now, he created the fundamentals
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of modern computing at a time when the most popular computer in the world was called iniac, he called his computer maniac. and he was such a good mathematician that his wife said johnny can count everything except calories. and he sort of upset people, because he liked to play german music really loud on his record. but he was the one who did the calculations that made the plutonium bomb -- this is the nagasaki bomb -- work. and i also love him because he was such a natty dresser that when everyone went burro riding in the grand canyon, he wore a three-piece suit. he liked to drive his car and read a book at the same time. and he crashed so often into the this corner that it's named for him to this day. now, right after the bombs were drops, america became very excited about this, and the government explained to americans that the reason we had atomic bombs and nobody else did was because we knew atomic
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secrets. and be everyone assumed this meant the sort of geniuses at close alamos, but it didn't mean that. what they were doing was really a kind of engineering. and the real genius was being done at oak ridge, temperature, at the largest building in the world at that time where, because they were creating the fuel that goes inside the bombs. and they had to do it with all these different methods. one method was a thermal diffusion method, another was a drip method. then they had a proton merry go round. that was going on there. and they had a thermonuclear -- i mean, they had fission devices producing plutonium. but the great thing that came out of oak ridge is that they had to discover a special seal atlanta to make the fissile material, and that entered american homed as teflon. now, one thing i'm very sad
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about the fact that the atomic age is ending is that the bombs were very beautiful. so let's look at 13 of them together, okay? [laughter] i would like to see one. i'm sorry. ah. so, and now we have the most dangerous experiment in the history of science in america. when 'em' cay ferme who made that first nuclear reactor was having lunch in 1940 with his protege, edward teller, he said, you know, i don't know why we're working on fission bombs because it's going to create so much heat. you could merge hydrogen atoms. and edward teller became so obsessed with this, that he spent the next 20 years of his life trying to create fusion weapons. and he would sit at his desk and come up with bomb ideas. and my favorite idea of edward teller's was something called
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the backyard bomb. and this was a bomb that was so enormous and would kill so many people you didn't need to take it and drop it on anybody, you could just set it off in your backyard. so, and here is edward teller's first test. this is the bikini atoll in 1952. it's when the bikini was first introduced, because like the fusion bomb, it is small ands devastating. and this is called the bravo bomb which was supposed to be four megatons and was instead 15 megatons. it created a fireball four miles in diameter. the people who viewed it had seen plenty of atomic bombs, and they'd never seen anything like it. it was like watching a diseased brain aear overhead. and then it -- appear overhead, and then it started snowing. it had incinerated the little ireland it was set on. and one of the incredible side effects of all of this was that it infected a japanese fishing
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boat called the lucky dragon fishing boat. and one of the fishermen died on the way there before anyone figured out what had happened, and all of the tuna that was infected was sold into the japanese market. and right after that happened, the movie godzilla came out. and while many of us thought it was funny because of the special effects that were so cheap and it was like a hand puppet, many of the japanese saw this movie about being the monster that america had inflicted on it with hiroshima, nagasaki and now with their own tuna fish, and also what their children were turning into. their descendants were going to be like this, atomic lizards. and many of the japanese couldn't sit through the whole thing, they they would get so u. they would have to run out of the theater. now, for those of you who are zen buddhists and are wondering when in this perfect lecture i will introbe deuce a note of humility before the universe, here it is, a slide out of order. many people have asked me about
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isn't there a possibility that there will be dirty bombs that terrorists will have nuclear bombs? and, you know, the worst attack, terrorist attack in american history was done with box cutters and flying lessons. so i don't think the next step is nuclear science. however, this is something that could headache you nervous -- make you nervous, which is that we have this huge number of atomic plants all over the continental united states. there are some of these are where weapons are stored, some of them are where weapons are produced, some of them are are where power plants are, and then all these lines are the transportation network. and then since we don't have think way of disposing of nuclear materials, 12 atomic plants have nuclear materials sitting, basically, out in open swimming pools like they had at fukushima. so if there is something to be frightened about with terrorism, this would be it. one of the great things that you get to do after hearing this
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lecture and realizing this book is the next time you see the movie dr. strangelove, instead of watching it as a wacky comedy, you can watch it as a historic documentary. because, in fact, a lot of it turns out to be true. one of the fundamental things in it is that almost anytime someone in the movie is ranting and raving about how, don't worry, if we have nuclear holocaust, only 20, 25 million americans will die, and we can put the best and the brightest in mine shafts, and we could have two women for every man, and we could repopulate the earth. all of this was serious theory at the time by nuclear strategist, one of whom, herman khan, tried to tell cue brick he deserved royalties because so much of his theories were used in the zany part of the movie, and kubrick says it doesn't work that way. and every time in the movie you see the president of the united states and the head of the soviet union using a hotline. it wasn't invented yet. in fact, a major part of the
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cuban missile crisis is the fact that they had to translate these cables back and forth laboriously, cables that needed to be read immediately were 31 hours delayed. so the -- 11 hours delayed. so the hotline came after. but the major thing that is incredible to me is the fact that the doomsday machine, that's the joke that ends the movie and ends the world, god invented. what happened is that during the carter administration from truman to carter the nuclear strategy of the united states was that we were going to drop our swire atomic arsenal -- entire atomic arsenal on china and russia and kill everybody and destroy everything. and during the carter administration they came up with a new strategy was that we would only drop our atomic weapons on the heads of the politboro and the kremlin. and the people behind this strategy wrote this wonderful article in "foreign affairs" magazine on how well it was going to work. and they called it decapitation. they were going to cut off the head of the soviet government.
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and the soviet government read this article in "foreign affairs" magazine and got upset s. so they came up with a thing where if missiles attacked the soviet union and no word came from moscow, missiles would automatically fly back out and attack the united states. so the doomsday machine here in dr. strangelove would actually come to pass 30 be years later -- 30 years later.ñ0÷ and if dr. strangelove is a significant movie in atomic history, the most significant movie in atomic history is china syndrome. and i like to say that americans first learned about nuclear science from seeing movies and pictures of the victims of hiroshima and nagasaki, and then they learned about atomic power plants when three mile island melted down at the same time as the china syndrome was in theaters. so you have walter cronkite announcing that what could be the end of the world is happening in pennsylvania while
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jane nonda is giving a powerpoint -- fonda is giving a powerpoint presentation, and saying if something bad happens, it could destroy an area the size of pennsylvania. and because of this, this coincidence of three mile island and china syndrome launched the biggest series of protests in the united states which culminated with one million people in central park. and this really stopped nuclear power dead. we got 20% of our electricity from nuclear then, and that's still all we get now. we, a long time ago for many, many years we were told that dropping the atomic bombs on hiroshima and nagasaki ended world war ii, that it kept us from having to send this one and a half million troop toss invade the home island and cause a terrible tragedy and carnage that way, and that was the only thing that got the japanese to surrender. and now we don't think that that's true them. we think that what got the
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japanese to surrender was that the soviets said they were going to come in on our side in that war instead of help the japanese negotiate a settlement, and the japanese had already lost 60 cities so losing 61 and 62 didn't matter that much, and that the idea to drop the bomb was actually to terrify stalin. so you can see that we can sort of today think that hiroshima and nagasaki were not the ends of world war ii, they're the beginnings of the cold war, and we now believe that the end of the cold war was actually caused by cher noble. -- chernobyl. and this is because when chernobyl exploded and sent a cloud the sides of 400 hiroshimas across all of europe, it broke the soviet citizens' belief in its government as being competent and trustworthy. and both gorbachev and -- [inaudible] both believe this is what ended the soviet union, chernobyl. so you could say the cold war started and ended with nuclear holocausts.
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the extraordinary thing about chernobyl is the fact that, first of all, the reason why it created such a horrible cloud is that they changed the roof of it so that they could make both electricity and warheads with the same power plant, and it all began as a test of a safety idea. they were going to see if they could run down the plant low enough if they could restart it without any problem. and when that failed, it all lieu to hell. now -- blew to hell. now, the u.n. has spent almost three decades studying chernobyl, and they've not figured out that 75 people died. 57 were either plant workers or first responders, and the others were the teenaged children of families who didn't evacuate the zone and who drank the milk of contaminated cows and got cancer in the thyroid. speaking a little closer to home, fukushima is an amazing
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story since the plant actually survived the incredible earthquake, and it would have survived the tsunami, except that they kept their backup batteries in the basement. that was the only flaw in this. and what happened was they had to battle three different problems at the same time. they had hydrogen gas exploding in the atmosphere, they had reactors exploding, and then they also had these cooling tanks with the old, used fuel. that was also exploding. so it came from three different directions. at one point one of the most frightening things in the book is learning how the head of the utility called the prime minister and said there's nothing we can do, we're evacuating the plant, we're giving up. but the on-site manager insisted on going forward, and he came up with the system of the peek she ma 50 where 400 men were cycled in and out of the plant, many of whom were the e give hent of day
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laborers that you hire in the parking lot of costco or worked for the akuza who went in. and they would even reis set their do similarrer thes was if they got too high i a reading, they would be pulled out of the work force. so they would hide how much they were getting, and they were the ones that saved this from be being a global holocaust. i love this. you can get your children a nice atomic energy lab. it comes with my favorite device which is a cloud chamber, a fog, and you can actually see subatomic parol accounts moving -- particles moving around in that fog. i say we're seeing the end of the atomic age, and i like this picture as a symbol of that. this first came out as a comic book that elementary schools would guy to give their children -- buy to give their children to learn about the history of the atomic age. it's about this little boy named andy, and he's playing with his dog, and the dog runs off into
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the nevada test site, and they find the dog after a week covered in radioactive dust. so during this time andy learns about the wonders of nuclear power and nuclear medicine, and here he is reunited with the dog. so this image was originally this educational magazine that children were supposed to read. then it became this sort of horrific pick hur of nuke -- picture of nuclear winter, sort of andy and this dog were the last survivors of nuclear war. and now you can buy it as a humorous mouse pad. now it's a joke. so i think that history is fantastic. but there is a terrible story this all this is in the fact that all this time that we've been worried about being contaminated by being attacked by atomic bombs from the soviet union, in fact, the biggest danger to americans comes from the tests done in nevada which have now contaminated the entire con innocental united states -- continental united states, and 11,000 americans die every year
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from that pollution, leftover pollution from nevada. so, but there is a little bit of good news in all of this. one of the pieces of good news is that we spent a number of decades studying the survivors of hiroshima and nagasaki, and i would imagine that they would have 50% higher cancer rates than normal, 70% higher cancer rates. instead all this time they only have 1% higher cancer rates. so all of this is sort of mixed really. but the reason why i say we're in the final stages of the atomic age is that even though if i had to, or i'd rather live next to a nuclear our plant than a coal power plant, if i had to, every time we have one of these disasters happen, the government and the company does such a terrible job managing it that they've lost all their political capital. and now to build a nuclear power plant, to maintain it and to fix it if something goes wrong, you
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need subsidies, government subsidies. and who is going to vote for that? so unless there is a possibility of a technological breakthrough -- and i hope there is one because we can't keep using petrochemicals. california now has air pollution imported from china, from the chinese problem with coal, and i really wish there was a technological breakthrough, but i don't think there's going to be one. so i think nuclear is on the way out. as far as be power goes. and then as far as atomic bombs go, the united states and the soviet union spent over $5 trillion on nuclear arms. and the last time anyone used nuclear arms was hiroshima and nagasaki in 1945. and every time somebody gets nuclear arms, everyone gets nervous about it, but they never get used. so even mao and stalin never used their nuclear bombs. and be, in fact, there a fantastic conundrum in that al
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fellowed nobel whose concern al fellowed nobel said his great dream in life was to create a weapon that was so powerful, it would make wars obsolete. and many people believe that teller, with his backyard bomb ideas, came up with that idea. that, in fact, the whole reason the cold war stayed cold was because everybody had nuclear arms. when reagan met with thatcher and said my great dream is to abolish all nuclear weapons, he said, are you crazy? is what do you think's keeping us from world war iii? that everyone has these nuclear weapons. so one of the great conundrums of the cold war is should ed teller and the other creators of the atomic weapons get the nobel peace prize for keeping us at peace with their atomic weapons? many people think that's true. but i don't want to leave you on this terribly sad story. remember when we first got together, we talked about marie curie's boyfriend and and all that fun stuff?
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remember what i told you about how los alamos was the name of that tree that they named the canyon after? well, in fact, where i grew up in texas, we also had an alamo, which was a church also named for that tree. and last week on the radio someone asked me what was your first childhood memory? and i remembered that when i was a very little boy, we used to have these -- i used to have these very strange dreams about the alamo where i was helping the people escape their doom, but it was sort of this spiritual thing going on. it was very weird dream. and i couldn't figure out what was going on..n and then when i was a teenager, i went back to visit the alamo, and i went around the corner, and there was this memorial for everyone who had died. and on that was this fantastic angel carrying the honor of the dead up to heaven. is now in my job as a historian, when i tell you a great story about marie curie that brings her alive for you today, when i
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help you remember someone who's forgot been -- forgotten, i may be no angel, but other than that little boy's dream has come true, and for your time and attention, i thank you kindly. [applause] does anyone have any questions? yes, sir. oh, okay. i haven't done this before. >> yeah. what you said about world war iii, many people believe that mutual -- >> assured destruction. >> >> yeah. mutual assured destruction saved us from world war iiis is such as the u.s. against the soviet union or pakistan against india.
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but other people feel that, actually, we were mighty lucky. cuban missile crisis, 1983, 1995. so where do you come down on this area? do you feel that we were lucky or that it really did save us from world war iii? >> i think both are true. one of the most frightening moments in the book is when brzezinski, carter's security adviser, is woken up in the middle of the night and told that we're being, the soviet union has attacked, and they're sending in the missiles. and he waits half an hour to get the confirmation call before he calls the president. and they call him with the confirmation call and say, it's true, and it's much worse than we originally thought. we thought it was 120 missiles, and it was 12,000 missiles. sitting there, and he's not even going to wake up his wife, because he knows they're going
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to be dead, and as he reaches over to the phone to call carter at 4:00 in the morning, he is gets a call and they say, oh, somebody made a mistake. this happens over and over and over again. the soviets are convinced we're attacking them, and it's geese. or we're convinced we're under attack, and it's weather balloons. and, you know, the bombers have an accident, and they drop their payload in the middle of the desert. and so, yes, we're extremely lucky. and the most terrifying one, another terrifying one is that during the reagan administration we ran this nato war game called able archer. and the soviets, the kgb had developed an swire theory that -- an entire theory that we were going to use war games as a cover for attacking. and england, the queen prepared a speech on how we were going --
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how england was going to respond now that atomic missiles were falling on england. and all of these were signs to the kgp that we were going to attack them. and that's why the korean plane was brought down, because it wandered into their air space as they achieved total paranoia from having these war games. yes. oh, he has the mic. okay. >> you touched on this when you spoke of where you would prefer to live, but the fact is people perceive risk irrationally and behave irrationally regarding what is risky, relatively speaking. hundreds of thousands of people each year even with lower -- with higher pollution standards in various countries die from emphysema and finish. >> yes. >> -- other respiratory problems produced by particulates from
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fossil fuels. i could go on and on. >> yes. >> if a bus quos over a cliff -- goes over a cliff, it makes news. if people die one at a time in automobile accidents, it does not make news. but the reality of the conventional nuclear plants are a much better deal for civilization. >> yes, i agree with you. in fact, at the chernobyl after i pointed out how the u.n. says 75 people died, i have their biggest u.n. critic says, no, this is wrong, at least 16,000 people died. and then i point out how in the u.s. 16,000 die every year from pollution caused by using coal to produce electricity. but i still feellg that when you have a situation like three mile eye hand where, in fact -- island, where, in fact, they could have used that to prove that the design of the reactors we have in the united states are safe because nothing happened to anybody from three mile island, they didn't even -- they couldn't even do that. so i think every time we have one of these disasters, it's so
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mishandled that the public feels no sense of safety in having this go down, so there's not political will power even though i agree with you about the truth of the fatalities. >> [inaudible] >> yes. yes, yes. yes. >> as i recall, and i'm 72 years old and it was a few decades ago, unless i'm mistaken on who the president was, reagan made a joke, and they doesn't realize that -- they didn't realize that it was still being transmitted about bombing moscow. >> right. >> and it horrified the women with children in moscow when they played it. that kind of went around the world for about a week until dr. tim whitman in canada can -- [inaudible] were appealing. if this is going to blow us up around the world six times and there's not going to be any
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living thing on the face of the earth, when are we going to stop producing these weapons? that ended the cold war because the rationale of that is nothing and no one is going to stay alive. >> will right. absolutely. one of many i favorite moments in the book is when i have jerome wiser in who's kennedy's scientific adviser, and he says, you know, in order to wipe out a continent completely, we need about 300 atomic weapons. and at that moment, which was 1962, we had 2300 atomic weapons. and we only have seven continents, and we only need to wipe out five of them. so anyway -- >> [inaudible] >> yes. yes, exactly. exactly. who has the mic? >> i do. >> oh, okay. [laughter] i can repeat questions too. why don't we go with you, and i'll repeat your question. >> [inaudible]
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>> i couldn't hear, so say it again. yeah, i'm sorry. >> you had mentioned a statistic that only, like i thought you said like 1,000 people had cancer from the -- >> no, 1. >> oh, 1%. i'm sorry, 1%. why was it so minimal? >> because, apparently, it takes a lot more, it takes a massive amount of exposure for you to actually have cancer effects from radiation, much more than any of us would imagine. >> [inaudible] you're basically saying if one of us or two of us or ten of us smoked, we would have more of a chance of getting cancer than the 1% -- >> well, actually, there's radioactive pa load yum in tobacco. so in day-to-day life, that's your most dangerous method of getting radioactivity, is by smoking. when i told you before about the little fat atoms spitting things
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out, those subatomic particles are too fat to penetrate your skin. that's why in the movie silkwood there are all those scenes of naked meryl streep writhing as the hen are washing her down -- the men are washing her down. if you didn't ip hail or swallow anything, you could take a shower and you would be okay if you're not sitting there on top of the reactor, but nearby. anyway -- >> well, i remember reading -- [inaudible] all of the women who worked in the plants that painted the radium dials on clocks. i remember my parents having those clocks. you could see them in the dark. that they licked the brushes -- >> yes. >> -- because it worked better. >> yes. >> every single one of those people died 10 years later, 12 years later. >> yes. >> because they were doing that every day, licking the brush. >> yep yes. they were sharpening the brushes with their mouth and using the
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radiation as makeup. and that those women died, those were the first people to sue their employer for unsafe working conditions, and that case became the foundation of osha, the occupational safety. >> my question is i -- [inaudible] i study eisenhower and truman politics, and i've been, i study with the old leaders. of -- [inaudible] cairo treaty. and it is believed that the reason the second world war is to make sure that third world war will never happen. and the reason for the king's speech is because britain was so hesitant about joining the allies or joining the other side, because they knew when the war ended with the atomics, britain will wind up paying the bulk of the destruction in germany. >> yes. >> and that's why they went almost bankrupt. they lost one-third of their
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colonies, and they gave up colonialism all in total after world war ii. my question is, does america consult with hitler through a speech like king's speech? does truman give a speech? i don't believe there's united nations yet. there's league of nations. turkey gave up league of nations and invaded. japan, iran gave up on league of nations, and it caused first world world war. so what is americans' price for dropping the atomic bombs on hiroshima and nagasaki? i mean, britain lost one-third of her colonies, and she could -- britain gave up colonialism in all. what is americans' price? and what is u.n.'s chip of it? that's my question. ..
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>> and i'm not sure about the speech. truman is not one of my favorite presidents for, partly for this decision-making kind of dropping of the bomb. i don't know why he had to drop two of them. but anyway, but eisenhower is a fantastic, faceting president and won the recent what is a star something called atoms for peace which was to export the peaceful use of a, energy and not have just for military. that's why the drives great nuclear power plants began.
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as part of our trying to make up to the japanese for their infected can we give them economic power plants. that was part of apology to the japanese. [inaudible] atomic bomb was already dropped in june, and that stopped hitler's invasion, and i think actually hitler stopped his invasion right away. the end of world war i, world war ii, european theater, but when the bomb was dropped on june 12 in japan, the japanese didn't even know that they had been hit. how is that possible? >> oh, no. >> in europe -- >> it wasn't dropped in europe. you're thinking of something else but it was only dropped in japan. [inaudible] >> then that tells you -- then
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that tells you to be careful what you read on the internet. yes. anyone else? hold on, hold on. somebody else has the mic first. thank you. >> when it comes to power plants using nuclear power, what is your, what are your thoughts on the prospect of fusion power? because they have a big project in europe going on, but it sounds impossibly complex. like it's not ever going to come in the near future, not in the near future anyway. >> it also sounds wildly dangerous to me, too, since they are creating little tiny stars on the face of the earth to make this power. but the theory behind it is fantastic. and if it ever works it will be the greatest thing that ever happens to us because we will have terrible energy problems. and if any of you are tinkering in basements or garages, please
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tinker on energy because we need help in this process. right now what's going on is that china is working on something called, oh, god, pebble bed reactors where the uranium is court inside the graphic and the concept is that if something happens to it, it can't cause any trouble, can't cause any follow because it will immediately extinguished itself. china is terribly polluted from using coal and petroleum. if they come up with a breakthrough that would be a tremendous help for us all. then bill gates is supporting something called the traveling water reactor, and -- which is a little, tiny nuclear reactors like you have at your house. but i don't understand the people designing this haven't released a lot of the details so i don't know about that. the fusion reactor you're talking about is something called it her, anyone wants to look can lookup on the internet.
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lawrence livermore here in the united states has been trying to create fusion since 1955, i think, at something called the national ignition facility. and for the first time since then, so in 60 years about, they have created something that creates more electricity than it cost them to make it. so they did make this breakthrough. so my fingers are crossed the something happens because we need something to happen. yes? >> i have a question. i have always been wondering why u.s.-soviet union, former soviet union and china, these three countries, they are afraid of each other. china is afraid of russia and the u.s., u.s. is afraid of russia and china, and russia is afraid of u.s. and china. what is origin of this paranoid among the three countries? >> well, that's a very good question.
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and, in fact, no matter, in this history in the book when you read the book, it's like no matter what the u.s. or the soviet union or china do, it makes everyone else more hysterical, you know? the cuban missile crisis makes america military hysterical that they were able to sneak missiles in right under our noses. so that means we need even more nuclear weapons. and it made the soviets hysterical that the americans were able to force them to remove those missiles, so they needed more nuclear weapons. it's like every single thing triggers more. there's a great churchill quote that after a certain amount of nuclear material and all you're doing is making the rubble bounce. and i say that, you know, apparently no matter what happened, both sides, all they wanted was more bouncing. they didn't care if it was
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rubble. they just needed more bouncing. there's a fantastic quote where one of the consultants at the pentagon, and he's going over the war plans and he's going, but, you know, everything is based on attacking the soviet union and china together. what if china has nothing to do with it? and the guy running it says, well, i sure hope that doesn't happen because that will really mess up our plans. [laughter] [inaudible] >> i want to know about us. we are all over the place with our computers. you've got one up there. are we getting the same kind of effect slowly, getting cash for all of these cell phones and gadgets people have surrounding us? >> no. one little part about all this that i left out is the fact that radiation is all over the place.
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it's descending on us from cosmic rays, rising up from uranium in the bedrock. it's in our smoke alarms and in our microwave ovens. your dog and cat are radioactive. your friends and family are radioactive, and right now we are also radioactive that we are irradiating each other and that, in fact, maybe the combination of our pheromones and our sparkling personalities and this radiation is what causes human chemistry. but i wasn't able to get to that point. [laughter] so that's part one. it's everywhere. so in order to have a cancerous effect, it needs to be a lot more than what we're getting already in day-to-day life. so, for example, the two ways you can get it are by sunburn, by giving cancer through sunburn, and by having radon in your basements. people, all of you have basements need to check your basement for radon, from smoking. there's radioactive polonium in
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tobacco they use. and that's pretty much it. that you don't have to worry about fukushima and you don't have to worry about these other things or computers are anything like that. you only have to worry about the basement and the sun and smoking. [inaudible] >> well, that's not good if you're surrounded by lots of smokers. yes, you are. [inaudible] spent yes, exactly. if you're under an unusual medical situation and you're getting lots of different diagnostics and you don't have one doctor, personal physician who's overseeing all of these things, you need to add them up in your head. yes, sir. that's a good point. >> are there any prospects of the fukushima problem being solved rather than being a serialized tv movie unfolding
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after weeks, after most? >> they are doing this wild one thing. they're putting in these giant pipes of coolant to freeze the ground. so they're trying to freeze the area around it and then they will have a no man's land like they have at chernobyl. but they think this technology is going to keep it from leaking off into the ocean or leaking into the rest of japan anymore. and i hope that's true. i hope that results it, but the amazing thing is that they have an open-air laboratory going on in chernobyl, and what they're finding is dramatically less than we would expect. so, for example, they have barn swallows that have a higher rate of, they have a certain percentage of the barn swallows have smaller brains than normal, and a higher percentage are albino than normal, but it's not affecting the population as a whole. and then they will find moose bones that are widely
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radioactive, meaning the wolf ate these widely radioactive beast, moose, mice, anyway. but the wolf population doesn't seem to be affected. but the really, the disturbing thing naturally affected here is bacteria that churns the garbage of the dead biological waste into mulch, that's been cratered. so it's not mulching like it should, the area around chernobyl, the forest is in the king like it's supposed to. yes, yes, yes. >> i think we're having more problems -- [inaudible] from people who didn't care about where it came from. we got lots of cancer going on. hole pockets of it spent yes,
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that's what she's talking about, toxic. there's a famous madmen episode where the family goes on a picnic and they just throw all the trash in the park and just pick up and leave with all the trash. i think that explains a lot of what we're still living with today with that toxic chemical. and for washington where they create a plutonium. that is one of the most polluted places. and both the soviet union and the united states put a lot of its military nuclear waste in metal oil drums and dumped it in the ocean. so now the islands are like radioactive coral because they have nuclear waste dumped their. >> i just wanted to say something else because i'm older than a lot of other people there. the league of nations put such a heavy war debt on germany that when hitler won the election, people working 14 hours a day and factories. i heard that from german immigrants from all over, and that's how he got elected, it
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was breaking the backs of the people. >> down. >> and when hiroshima was bombed, the emperor did not give up. and when macarthur came in he didn't want to repeat the mistakes of the league of nations. he created a beautiful rebuilding of japan. look at what happened as a result. they're one of the biggest economies in the world. >> the current theory is that wasn't world war i and were or two, there's one big war with a break. that's sort of the current military thinking about world war i and world war ii. [inaudible]
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>> uh-huh. [inaudible] >> this is the nuclear age over -- is the nuclear age over and should be? >> i wish it wasn't but i think it is over. i think we're seeing the falling apart of it now that, you know, you do not come you know, we were do about iran having a nuclear device, but that's the only nation we've been worried about for a long time. it isn't like you would think with the fall of the soviet union, ukraine would want one and has extended no one and uzbekistan would want one. it actually isn't happening. and we've already lived through, you know, stalin and mao did kill tens of millions of people without dropping a single nuclear device. so we've already lived with probably the worst people to ever have nuclear weapons. [inaudible] >> well, i think that every time
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we have an accident, it's so closely -- grossly mismanaged that they've destroyed the political willpower to maintain nuclear power. and so i myself am very glad that china and vietnam, for example, are building a lot of nuclear plants. because it would be a great benefit to the world to have them use let's call and more nuclear. but i think in the developing countries go, it seems to be on its last leg unless we have this technological breakthrough that makes it both safe and cost-effective. yes, ma'am. [inaudible] >> kelo shouldn't always be afraid of nuclear. but ninth avenue on the west side lots of people a lot of the restaurants had to put up signs our fish, our seafood is not come from japan. some of them did go out of business. and into the lady right there,
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when we were in school we were taught that winston churchill before he was hit by a taxi, had to promise roosevelt that they would give up their colonies in order to get the american support for entering the war. so they really were afraid of england. >> yes. well, if i was a naked, pregnant woman i wouldn't eat fish i caught myself off the shores of fukushima. but other than that we've actually had -- remember that enormous bomb i showed you, that's gary sick statement of all time, that huge explosion in the water? we actually had someone return to the bikini islands in a submersible to test it for radiation. and we assumed that there would be a lot of radiation all over bikini because they had one bomb after another while up there. this wasn't a power plant melting down. this was nuclear, huge nuclear devices being exploded. and, in fact, the only radiation they could find was in the sandstone tombstone of the
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islanders, that the rest of it had been sort of dispersed by the affects of the ocean. so our fears of fukushima water coming and contaminating us aren't anywhere near as bad as mercury poisoning in fish already. okay, thank you very much. [applause] okay, thank you. >> author alan have been chairs the tale of two mississippi's as we visit jackson. >> prospect hill was founded by a revolution and war veteran from south carolina. and when he realized that he was going to die and the slaves would end up being sold or which is become common slaves, he wrote in his will that at the time of his daughter's death the
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plantation would be sold and the money used to pave the way for those late to emigrate to liberia where a freed slave colony had been established by the american colonization society. they call it we pay creation and to talk about them going back to africa. but you have to understand, most of them were americans. they had been here for three, four, five generations. it was a like they were just going home. they were going back to the continent that their ancestors originally inhabited, but it was quite a risk, and so they took their culture, what they knew here, there. of course, some of them took the bad aspects, too. slavery, but that was all they had ever known. they build houses like this one because after all, they're the ones who built this house. they were a lot of basically
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revival houses that the freed the slaves built in mississippi and africa. and, of course, across the river was louisiana in liberia, which was settled by freed slaves from louisiana. there was a georgia, a virginia, kentucky, maryland county, and all those people came from those states in the u.s. spent explore the history and literate life of jackson this weekend saturday at noon eastern on booktv and sunday at 2 p.m. on american history tv on c-span3. >> now you can keep in touch with current events from the nation's capital using any phone any time with c-span radio on audio now. simply call (202)626-8888. congressional coverage, public affairs forum's and today's washington you your program and never make it a listen to recap of the day's events at 5 p.m. eastern on washington today. it also your audio of the five network sunday public affairs program beginning sundays at an eastern. c-span later on audio now.
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call (202) 626-8888. long distance or phone charges may apply. >> next, "after words" with author susan stranahan. her latest book deals with the 2011 meltdown at the fukushima nuclear power plant. former u.s. nuclear regulatory commission share gregory jaczko host this hour-long program. >> host: well, welcome, susan. this is a great opportunity for me. normally i'm the person having the questions asked of me and now i get the opportunity to ask a former journalist questions about the book that you wrote. the other 40 doing that. >> guest: i will do my best. it is a is and i'm accustomed re for me to answer questions. it's good to be here. >> host: i'm glad. i wanted to start just to ask you a few issues that are really general in nature about the
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book, and the first question i just wonder is, what drove you to this topic? what made you interested in writing a book about the fukushima accident? >> guest: as a journalist it was a very compelling story. i had covered the three-mile island accident when i was reported at "the philadelphia inquirer," and have followed nuclear issues ever since. and the first moments of that accident when the news accounts begin to come out, i watched transfixed, because it was the first time i think the world has ever watched an accident unfold. and so i got caught up in the story, not necessarily the technical aspects of it, but the human aspects and the very high drama of what was going on in japan. and as events began to continue to unfold, i saw a number of
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parallels to what had happened at three-mile island, and was curious as to what sorts of lessons had been learned and had not been learned from three-mile island, while there were so many differences. so it just brought me in from that angle. >> host: i think you when it goes a price for your work. >> guest: the inquirer. the inquirer did i was part of a large team was sent to cover the accident. i did a lot of writing. i never went out of. i had been there but i didn't go actually to the scene, but was working as a we right person for the reporters and photographers. so it to me was a very frightening event. the accident that we had all been led to believe would never happen was happening but fortunately, it wasn't as severe as things at fukushima daiichi
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pic but i also sensed that they said caught the experts offguard also. the noc, the utility officials, state government officials. -- nrc. that was the peril of track from fukushima daiichi. we have had 30 some years to learn lessons. it didn't appear that they quite sunk in from three-mile island. >> host: was a different covering or watching the fukushima accident just innocent as a layperson, as opposed to three-mile island were heading processional role to i was taking notes constantly and visually. i mean, visually it was phenomenal. as we write in the book, but people watched the reactor building explode. we saw the helicopters flying over. you saw the people being rousted from their homes, packing their belongings and fleeing.
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compelled with this horrific natural disaster. and i think we tend to lose sight of the fact that the natural disaster would have been headline making in and of itself. so i did watch it with a certain arm's-length objectivity, but i kept taking a lot of notes because i had a lot of questions that i want to find out more about, and just kind of -- >> host: talk to me a little bit about the collaboration with you and the other staffers. >> guest: i had worked with dave as a source for many years. had met him just once, but had come to rely on the union of concerned scientists, ma and a number of other organizations,
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as could go to people when i was writing about issues. i had not really worth that much with ed lyman until just before the accident. in june of 2011 i was asked by the union of concerned scientists to team up with dave and with ed to put together a book. my idea of book was a bit different i think that what the ucs folks had originally. i came added as a journalist. i came as a storyteller. and i felt that if the public were to become engaged in this issue, as i felt they really should, the best way to do it was to tell it for a general audience through the trauma of an unfolding event. so i'm not an engineer. i'm not a physicist. i'm a reporter, and so i began
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to pull together a lot of different threads. and we put together a proposal. it was accepted, and we set about the task of writing the book. and so i would draft many of the chapters, and then ed and dave would read them, have a lot of input in the technical issues. as the book progressed and it gets into some of the background on nuclear regulation, the history of regulation in this country, ed and dave of course added a lot more because they're much more familiar with it. so it was a good collaboration. >> host: when you read it, subversively with a lot of these issues, i could see some of the places where it looked like those with pieces that ed and dave contributed. >> guest: their fingerprints are in the book, definitely. >> host: you talked about this in the story, and as i read
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through the book and having lived through a lot of these stories personally, it was clear that this was about people in the drama. tell me about the two or three people or characters in a way that stood out to you most in this story. >> guest: there were several, and the difficulty with this book, none of us speaks japanese, and so we did this from the u.s. and so it was a lot of gathering of information from official reports and from news accounts and things like that but we didn't get a chance to talk to the people at the plant, obviously. but one of the stories that resonated with me was the moment when they are dithering about whether or not they need to inject sea water into unit one. and it's a matter of -- the
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clock is ticking and they are just about down to the wire. matthew yoshida, anything that i pronounce his name, the plant to continue in the end would have to make the final call knows it's desperate. they need to get water in there very quickly. and meanwhile, everybody wants a say. and the pepco officials and the japanese government officials are all just kind of hemming and on. and yoshida gets an order from one of the supervisors at pepco that the government hasn't signed off on it. he's got hold of. he's already started. and so he basically calls one of his staff people over and says okay, i'm going to give in order to ignore it. so he very likely proclaims a buddy in tokyo tenure, halt the seawater injection. when, in fact, they didn't.
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antennae that was a human element in the story in which come in japan where ignoring the rules and kind of acting on your own is not rewarded. there was a moment where a guy knew that if he didn't act, things would go even worse than they were going. so we did. that when was a very interesting piece. >> host: he definitely stands out as unique character. >> host: i wish i would've had a chance to meet in a really wish i had. he talked very little to the press. and, unfortunately, died, but some of his lines of the accident were very compelling. the other characters in the book come and there aren't many characters, chuck castro, and i really liked chuck. ..
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